Angry that your insurance company isn’t moving as fast with that claim check as you’d like? Or maybe the insurance company’s offer is less than you need to cover your losses? Perhaps you need your own adjuster.
Public insurance adjusters assume all of the duties necessary to get your claim processed, including making an inventory of the loss and presenting your case to the insurance company. A good public adjuster has experience in the industry and will understand your contract and the company’s responsibilities right down to the fine print. In exchange, a public adjuster receives a percentage of your claim.
For the most part, people like using a public adjuster because they like the idea that someone is working on their behalf versus someone working on behalf of the company.
But it is important to find a competent public claims adjuster. It is a lot like finding a medical specialist during a health crisis: It takes some research at a time when, chances are, you need to move fast.
If they’re good, it really makes a lot of sense.
Most often, public claims adjusters are called in for large property claims.
For smaller claims (less than $25,000) it’s probably a waste of money to hire a public adjuster.
If you have a large property claim and are considering a public adjuster, ask yourself two questions: First, is your company acting quickly to replace your losses? Second, have those efforts been effective and fair?
Is the company out there within 12 hours, or has it been a week since the fire and no one’s come. Most good companies are going to come out there pretty quick.
Most well-known companies also are going to play fair when it comes to claims. But, in today’s economy when companies are hurting, “Some are going to play hardball.
There are also a few other instances when it could be practical to hire a public adjuster:
- You’ve sustained a partial loss. Half the house burned down. Now you’ve got to document which of your possessions survived the fire, which burned and which are damaged beyond repair.
- You don’t have the time to follow up on your claim. Whether you’re a two-income couple with kids or a busy professional who travels frequently, filing a claim and following it through will take time, especially if you don’t have a record of your possessions and their value.
- You had loved ones injured or killed in the incident. If you’re spending your days at the hospital or mourning a family member, you may not even want to think about the claims process.
- The loss is business-related. Rather than assign an employee to handle the claim, some companies will outsource the job.
Even though you’ll want to move fast, you still have to do your homework before you hire a public adjuster.
Here’s how to find a reputable public claims adjuster:
- Poll the people you trust. Call your accountant, your lawyer and your neighbor. Ask if they’ve ever used a public claims adjuster or know anyone who has.
- Contact the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. This trade organization, which represents 110 of the industry’s largest firms, maintains a searchable database of members who have at least two years of experience and uphold a professional code of conduct. A Certified Professional Public Adjuster must have five years of experience and pass an exam, while a Senior Professional Public Adjuster must have at least 10 years of experience and pass a more rigorous test.
- Once you get a few names that look promising, interview them. Ask about rates, references and credentials. Contact their references and quiz former clients on the adjuster’s performance. Was the person effective? Available? Fast? Accurate? Did he or she deliver what was promised? If the adjuster claims any kind of certification, get the name of the accrediting body and call it.
- Call your state insurance office. Many states license or regulate public claims adjusters. If yours does, make sure your prospect is in good standing, with no unresolved complaints. It won’t hurt to call the Better Business Bureau while you’re at it.
- Ask your insurance agent. Sound like a conflict of interest? Not really. You’re hiring an adjuster to represent you to the insurance company. So what is this person’s reputation within the industry?